Lands & Surveys to repossess misused lands, clear backlog dating back to 80s

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By Devina Samaroo

The Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GL&SC) is moving to repossess leased lands which are being misused even as it works to clear a backlog of some 32,000 applications which have been in the system since the late 1980s.

Commissioner Trevor Benn told reporters during the entity’s end-of-the-year press conference on Tuesday, December 19, 2017, that some 40% of leases in the system are nonperforming ones, amounting to millions of dollars.

This means that the leaseholders do not use the lands for the purposes they were granted or they are not paying the rental fees.

Benn explained that in repossessing the lands, there is a process which the GL&SC follows.

“According to the conditions of the lease, if the lease is nonperforming then the process is t write that individual. That letter gives them six months to get themselves in order if they don’t get themselves in order then we can initiate steps to repossess the land,” he stated.

In addition to repossessing these lands, the Commission will be moving against squatters and is in the process of devising a plan to deal with lessees who are subletting their leased lands without the requisite approval.

The GL&SC also explained that the entity is burdened with an accumulation of Expressions of Interest for lands and hopes that the digitalization of the Commission will help clear the backlog.

“Every day we receive new Expressions of Interest, some of them are converted into applications and some are not because you have some serious Expressions of Interest and some are not. Those that are converted into applications, it adds to that number,” he said.

In processing these applications, Benn said the Commission will be on the lookout for persons who are involved in suspicious activities.

“We’re working very closely with our partners at the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) in this regard and we’re following the Anti-Money Laundering Law in relation to large sums of money being paid over in cash by perspective leaseholders…,” he explained.

Moving forward, the GL&SC will be reviewing the Land Surveyors Act which is expected to be taken to National Assembly in 2018 and will be developing a National Land Policy which will guide land-related decisions for Guyana.

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